Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Sierra Sotheby’s Hosts Squaw Valley Networking Event

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016



Squaw Valley USA

Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty recently hosted the first annual Lake Tahoe Winter Social and Celebrity ProAm ski race at Squaw Valley California. The event brought together Sotheby’s International Realty agents from across the West Coast for networking, panel discussions and fun in the sun with Olympic legends Billy Kidd and Tamara McKinney, speed skier Jeff Hamilton and former US Ski teamer, April Mancuso Reynolds.Agents gathered for a sold-out conference at PlumpJack Squaw Valley where Sotheby’s International Realty’s Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy Purvey unveiled some of the brand’s exclusive 2016 marketing partnerships with media giants including New York TimesWall Street JournalDwellRobb ReportMansion GlobalApple News and new this year, Apple TV. “These relationships are unique to Sotheby’s International Realty and we’re proud that we can share measurable results from this high traffic exposure directly with our sellers,” says Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty’s President, Peter Strand.

Highlights of the day included panel discussions with some of the top producing realtors in the West including Lexi Cerretti of Sierra Sotheby’s International RealtyShane Herbert (number one in the state of Utah) from Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Park City, Herman Chan from Bay Sotheby’s International RealtyMatt Blake from LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in Vail, CO, Cheryl Foote from Steamboat Sotheby’s International RealtyEric Iantorno from Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in Del Mar, CA and Michael Dreyfus, broker/owner of Silicon Valley’s Dreyfus Sotheby’s International Realty.

On day two, the group hit the slopes of Squaw Valley California for the first annual Sierra Sotheby’s Celebrity ProAm ski race. Amateur skiers and snowboarders were treated to a light-hearted day on the hill where Olympic legend Billy Kidd offered tips and advice to first-time racers. “You are all going to be ready for the next Olympics when we’re done today,” jested Kidd. At the 1964 Winter Olympics at Innsbruck, Kidd and teammate Jimmie Heuga became the first American men to win Olympic medals in alpine skiing, winning silver and bronze in the slalom. Among numerous other titles, Kidd also brought home a World Cup victory at Squaw Valley in 1970; the last time a World Cup was hosted on that mountain.  Sierra Sotheby’s agent Tamara McKinney and Broker Jeff Hamilton, were among the cast of pros. After making the US Ski Team at age of 14, McKinney is recognized for winning four World Cup season titles, most notably the 1983 overall. She was the only American woman to hold that title until Lindsey Vonn captured it in 2008.  Olympic bronze medalist, Jeff Hamilton is recognized as the first person to ski 150 miles per hour and holds multiple world titles.

Awards were held at an exclusive ski-in/ ski-out residence located directly on the slopes of Squaw Valley with lunch catered by acclaimed chef Billy McCullough former chef and owner of Truckee’s Dragonfly restaurant.

Fastest time of the day went to former US Ski Team member, All American and Squaw Valley native April Mancuso Reynolds. Still a regular on the slopes of Squaw Valley, Reynolds now practices orthopedic medicine in Santa Clara, CA.


Shakespeare Ranch

Throughout the three-day event, Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty hosted private tours of the some the area’s most exclusive lakefront and slopeside real estate offerings including historic Shakespeare Ranch in Glenbrook, NV and the 29-acre Poulsen Ranch in Squaw Valley. “Sotheby’s International Realty’s worldwide network and strong connection to Bay Area feeder markets is what truly sets us apart in the Lake Tahoe luxury real estate market,” said Peter Strand. “This event is an example of our proactive approach to connecting dedicated agents and their qualified buyers with our sophisticated sellers. Our clients both expect and deserve this level of commitment.”Sotheby’s International Realty affiliates came from as far as New Jersey, Sun ValleyBig Sky, and Seattle to explore Lake Tahoe’s luxury real estate market and experience the region’s world-renowned skiing, outdoor recreation and natural splendor.   “Plans are already in motion for next year’s Ski Social,” promises Strand.

Wine Cellars in Luxury Homes

Monday, December 29th, 2014


591 Pinto Court Wine Cellar

591 Pinto Court Wine Cellar

As toasts are made to ring in the New Year, celebrate a special occasion or just at a quiet intimate gathering, many will make that toast with a glass of bubbly or a fine vintage selected from their personal wine collections. Many affluent homeowners are also oenophiles, and there has been a growing trend for luxury homes to be equipped with “Wine Cellars”. In a private residence, a wine cellar may consist of something as simple as a wine cooling unit installed in a kitchen, to a designated underground storage space to elaborately designed wine rooms equipped with furnishings to accommodate wine tastings and diner parties.

The history of wine storage can be traced back thousands of years, to ancient civilizations in the middle-east and Europe. Archeological evidence suggests that people have been storing wine underground for over 8,000 years.  Evidence of old pottery jars buried beneath dirt floors have been unearthed in Iran, the ancient Romans stored their wines in catacombs beneath their cities and the French dug caves specifically to store their precious vino. These early methods for storing wine made use of conditions that were consistently cool, damp, dark and still. These were spaces that were purely functional.

For modern day collectors and connoisseur, whether their collecting for investment or hobby, wine storage has become a marriage of science, art and design. The wine cellar has been taken to new levels, and has emerged from subterranean spaces to become a showpiece incorporated into the active living and entertaining area of the home. Many new homes are being built with a “Wine Cellar or Wine Room” as a component of the overall design plan. These spaces are still sometimes placed in a subterranean area where they can utilize a passive mode of climate control, but more often, they are designed to be a showpiece and are strategically placed in visible and easily accessable areas of the home. These rooms are equipped with highly sophisticated climate and humidity control equipment.

Depending on the location within the home, the size of the bottle collection, cubic footage and the materials used, these contemporary wine rooms can cost as little as $10,000 to upwards of $200,000. The variation in cost can be reflected in many of the technical and aesthetic options incorporated into the design of the space. On the technical side, there are three major types of wine cellar cooling systems. These systems are designed to maintain the space at a constant temperature of approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 80 to 100%. Storing wine property, whether in a small cabinet, closet or custom built wine cellar, proper climate control is essential for storing and ageing of fine wine. The first type, “through the wall” systems are an inexpensive and reliable option, operating much like the old room air conditioner units, and require sufficient ventilation space to another adjacent room or space. The second type, “split system” offer more flexibility in placement and reduced impact of heat, noise and ventilation requirements. The third type, the “self-contained system”, is a ducted system, which allows for having the mechanical unit placed away from the area thereby reducing the impact of noise and heat of the unit. The ducted type system is ideal for controlling conditions in larger cellars and rooms.

In today’s luxury home these custom spaces may vary from sleek and simple rooms with neatly placed racks to showcases rooms outfitted with stone and rare wood elements, art work, lighting and designer furnishings. But no matter how simple or sophisticated, they add value to the home, and have become a staple in the luxury home market. Our Best Wishes to all for Health and Happiness in 2015…Cheers!

Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty has offices in South Lake Tahoe, Zephyr Cove, Incline Village, Squaw Valley, Truckee, Tahoe Donner and Tahoe City. The firm is part of Majestic Realty, serving Denver, Boulder, Breckenridge and Vail Valley, Colorado, and Park City, Deer Valley, and Salt Lake City, Utah. The combined firm has 400 broker & support staff associates, and in 2013 closed over 4,000 transactions valued at nearly $3 Billion. Lexi Cerretti  and Claudia Thompson specialize in luxury real estate sales. For more information on properties on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, contact Lexi Cerretti or visit

Luxury Home Features for Winter

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

The Pointe #24 FireplaceWith Winter setting in at Lake Tahoe,homeowners have a wide range of desirable, features that appeal to a luxury home.

Many high end homes feature extended use of outdoor spaces throughout the colder months. Desirable features enhance comfort and create enjoyable areas outdoors and others are designed to ease hazardous conditions and work that accompanies accumulating snow and ice around the property.

Well designed mountain homes feature snow melt systems throughout exterior hardscape including driveways, paths, steps, patios and decks. Hydronic and electric systems will automatically activate for the conditions via moisture and temperature sensors.   Snow melt systems are also built into roofs and gutters in the form or radiant edge ice melt or heat tape units. Roofs are also equipped with snow stops to preventing large sheets of snow and ice from sliding off and causing injury and property damage.  A Porte Cochere is an elegant feature that provides cover for guests arriving at the front door, especially for large events with hired valets waiting at the door. Lighting is another key element that will enhance landscaping, walks and drives in the long, dark winter months and can be automated to turn at dusk.

Outdoor entertaining in cold weather can be cozy and inviting with snow-free patios and decks surrounding an outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Outdoor spas have become increasingly desirable way to enjoy winter starlit evenings, especially if placed within a few steps from the home and tucked in a private corner of the patio or deck. Outdoor gas or electric heaters can be built in and provide ample heat around a larger area and for winter festivities.

Upgrading indoor features will also enhance a mountain home with many imaginative ideas aided by modern technology.

A heated garage can incorporate sealed concrete floors and drains for snow melt and water shedding off vehicles. Hot water and power wash systems for cars and compressors for maintaining winter tire pressure are very desirable. Once a homeowner has lived with these luxuries, they won’t know how to part with them if they ever decide to move.

Mud rooms are another luxury that many full-time homeowners can’t live without. Pet showers are a great way to rinse snow and mud off Fido, and to keep boots from tracking mud into the home. Ski lockers keep winter gear, hats, gloves, goggles, helmets skis/boards all organized and out of sight, while boot and glove drying units get rid of moisture quickly. Built-in benches are ideal for sitting and pulling boots on and off, with plenty of hooks to hang winter coats and cubbies for boots. A front entry foyer or vestibule can be modified to add seating, and a closet augmented with a rack for hanging visitor’s coats, if there isn’t a mud room.

Indoor fireplaces become gathering spaces in living rooms and family rooms, even in kitchens and dining rooms. Bedrooms and bathrooms are transformed into cozy retreats to spend quiet time away from a busy house full of visitors, too. Radiant heat and home humidification systems add comfort throughout the home, and remedy dry conditions exacerbated by forced air heating systems. Bathrooms equipped with heated floors, heated towel racks, steam showers and even heated soaking tubs are popular.

Gourmet kitchens, private bars and wine cellars, home theaters, total home sound systems, libraries, game rooms with pool tables, ping pong, and video games, art studios, craft rooms are among some of the specialty rooms and features owners enjoy. Many homeowners want spa like amenities in the privacy and convenience of their own home and incorporate fitness suites, saunas, whirlpools and even massage and meditation rooms. A home theater or game room isn’t always limited to a big screen and movie seating. Sports enthusiasts may opt for a virtual golf area, a flight simulators, and or even a shooting range.

High-tech features are requisite in a well-equipped mountain home, also including smart home features with nest room thermostats, Wi-Fi, wired or wireless sound systems like Sonos, controlled by wireless access. A backup generator is another essential feature for enduring power outages, and water shut-off valves also provide a fool-proof way to leave a home without worry for winter vacations.

As home buyers are exposed to the latest-and-greatest, some features tend to fall by the wayside. Yet improvements in technology have greatly simplified systems and reduced cost, enticing builders and remodelers to incorporate proven systems as a standard option. Lake Tahoe offers a four-season environment putting systems to the test; a proving grounds to set the standard for innovative mountain living.

Multi-Generational Luxury Home Living

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

1580 Vivian In-Law QuartersAs Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, we are reminded of all of the gifts for which we are grateful and of those who are dear to us. Many of us will enjoy the company of elderly parents and grown children and even grandchildren joining us in our homes to celebrate.

 In times past, and still today in many cultures, it was common to have multiple generations of a family living together under the same roof. Our ambitious, upwardly mobile and adventurous American baby-boomer generation moved away from that tradition. Many young adults went off to attend universities and often settled far from home and family. Our society moved away from the close proximity of the extended family and became more focused on the nuclear family. Now though, as life expectancy has increased and the ageing population grows, the need for alternate living situations has become an important consideration. Many adults do not live near to any relatives. Couples and individuals often settled in locations based on the desire to enjoy a particular lifestyle and independence. At some point though, either elderly parents who have been left alone, or the independent baby-boomers themselves, find that they no longer can nor want to live alone and isolated from those that they can depend on for help, support and companionship. As this situation continues to become more commonplace, the trend and need for additional space and accommodations within the traditional single family home has become an important and value added feature.

One of the hottest amenities in today’s home market is the In-Law Apartment. Luxury homes have often been built with separate quarters for live in help, a nanny or an au pair. In the Tahoe home market, these separate living quarters often housed caretakers on properties where owners only use their homes occasionally or only during certain seasons of the year. Now buyers are focusing on homes with existing separate living quarters or ones that have the potential to be remodeled or added on to, in order to accommodate multiple generations of family. Where permitted, some individuals will even build a separate smaller home, cabin or casita on their existing property. Architects and contractors are working on new solutions for creating functional spaces that can offer close proximity to family, yet maintain a desirable degree of privacy and independence for all involved.  

Key features that are likely to be incorporated into these accessory dwelling units include separate entrances, ground level access or separate stairway, a sitting room, bedroom and full or partial kitchen. Many are equipped with handicap accessible features such as single level living, wide doorways, walk-in showers with safety bars, lowered counters and entry ramps.

Homes offering these added living spaces generally sell for higher a higher price, so the additional cost of purchase or the investment to build or remodel will add value overall as this trend continues to gain momentum. This alternative may also be less of a financial burden on families than the expense of a separate home, apartment, assisted living facility or nursing home.

Multiple generations living together can present challenges to be sure, and expectations should be realistic. But given the ability to have family close by, yet still somewhat separate and independent, can offer countless rewards for families. In addition to peace of mind; shared wisdom, learning, caring, giving, companionship, friendship and the love of those we hold dear are the gifts that are gained, and a reason to be grateful.         

Tahoe Home Winterization

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

20140217-174259.jpgWinterization is an important component in protecting your Lake Tahoe home from the harsh elements. Anything that is not heated or in an enclosed, heated space is susceptible to freezing. 

Exterior features including landscape irrigation lines and hose bibs should be drained properly. An effective way to clear irrigation lines is to blow pressurized air through them to clear out any water that could be left in the system. Often just draining the lines will leave pockets of water in areas, which can freeze and crack. Older hose bibs may not be adapted for freeze prevention, so the water line running to them should be drained with faucets opened. Often time a frozen water line leading back from a hose bib may not show damage until the line melts in spring and leaks out of a cracked pipe, potentially causing major interior damage. 

Interior water lines can be susceptible to freeze in older homes if plumbing is run in an exterior wall, which is not up to current building code. It is important to make sure a central heating source evenly warms all parts of the home to prevent freeze in susceptible pipes. If a home is heated primarily with a woodstove or gas fireplace, bedrooms and remote areas away from the heat source can vary significantly in temperature. If plumbing runs through an unheated crawlspace, the foundation walls should be properly insulated and foundation vents closed. If a home is left unoccupied for the winter, it is safer to install a main water shutoff valve and drain the plumbing for the season. 

Heating efficiency is another consideration when preparing a home for winter. Heat loss can be significant out of windows and gaps on doors. Consider weather stripping along exterior doors where a draft can be felt, and drafty windows can be remedied by installing insulating blinds. Forced hot air vents are often not sealed correctly, and should be taped at the seams and wrapped with insulation to prevent heat loss through the system. Spray foam insulation around wall and cable outlets, dryer vents, kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans, and any holes through the subfloor. Installing a timer on the hot water heater is also a great way to save energy costs. 

Ice dams are another concern in winter. Heat tape along the eaves of the roof is an effective way to keep ice from forming, and preventing melt water to back up and cause leaks in the ceilings. Gutters and downspouts should be cleared from debris each fall, and snow and ice should be cleared if there is no heat tape in place. Decks and patio doors are another place susceptible to ice and damage from snowmelt. These areas should be shoveled and ice melt used to keep melt water from penetrating over flashing and inside the home. 

Another consideration is to have proper homeowners insurance and a home warranty to cover you in the event that ice damage or flooding from frozen pipes occurs. Your insurer will likely advise you to video tape all possessions for insurance purposes. Look for local professionals to assist in winterization, including a lawn care professional and licensed plumber. Taking proper preventative steps will save you from potential disaster when cold weather ensues.

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